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CHA-LEE

CHA-LEE's Tale

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hhhmmm… how to start? When I was a kid I did all of the country kid stuff of shooting whatever we could whenever it presented its self. But nothing serious or regimented. The only firearm I owned when I was a kid was a super cheap .22 rifle I bought one summer to “Clean Up” prairie dogs at a local ranch in northern Colorado. My buddy and I spent the whole summer shooting prairie dogs and collecting their reward from the land owner. We shot that poor .22 rifle so much that by the end of the summer it wouldn’t hold a 10 inch group at 25 yards. I am sure that a lot of that was user error but being that inaccurate we ended up missing those prairie dogs more than hitting them and by then the fun factor had worn off anyway. So we quit shooting and did other kid stuff and as they say “out of sight, out of mind” I really never could remember what happened to that worn out .22 rifle. Life went on and new interests were found and explored.

I have a late model GTO and am part of a GTO club. We help each other work on our cars, attend get together meets and generally have fun helping each other out. Doing this you obviously make friends and find out what their other hobbies. One of our GTO members has been into USPSA, IDPA and 3Gun shooting for a long time and introduced me to the sport of practical shooting. I obviously found this very interesting and started doing as much research as I could on it. Now we can fast forward to about 5 months ago, when I was reintroduced to the wild world of shooting by purchasing my first pistol. Since I was fairly new to shooting in general much less competition shooting I didn’t want to run out and buy a $2,500 competition gun then find out that it wasn’t something that I wanted to do. I ended up getting a Springfield XDm-40 and used that to retrain myself on shooting from the ground up. I took some shooting classes, did a ton of research and just started shooting as much as I could. I like fiddling with things so modifying and testing my XDm-40 really helped me better understand the basic mechanics of what the pistol should and shouldn’t do, or better yet what I should or shouldn’t do with it. I burned through about 2,500 rounds practicing at a local indoor range before I felt confident enough with the pure basics of gun handling and safety to attend my first competition match. My first competition match was an IDPA match that just so happened to be a Classifier event, which really wasn’t like normal match stage scenarios. It took forever (6 Hours) and I only got to shoot 2 stages before we got rained out. At the time, I was like “THIS SUCKS!!!” but I took heed of many of the experienced shooters comments saying that this match was a lot less fun than the regular matches.

The next weekend ended up being a USPSA match that had a regular stage setup and flow to the shooting. Obviously, going from shooting in your “Lane” at an indoor public range to drawing from a holster and shooting targets on the move was a complete wake up call and totally fun. I was hooked instantly and the addiction/affliction was confirmed…….

Fast forward to today. The XDm-40 has been put on the back burner and I am now shooting in the Limited class with an EAA Witness Limited .40. I have been to about 15 total matches of mixed venue but mostly USPSA matches. I also got a Dillon 650XL reloading press and have cranked out about 5000 rounds on it so far. I believe that my equipment is to where it needs to be and now it’s mainly down to honing my shooting skills. That’s it right? All I have to do is shoot better. How hard can that be??? I am finding out that becoming a proficient competition shooter takes a long time in its self, much less becoming a good competition shooter. Right now I am in the “Absorption” mode of all the video’s, books, tips at matches, and lessons learned while shooting. I find myself feeling like someone dumped me out of my comfortable kiddie pool right into the middle of the ocean. Man eating sharks, killer jelly fish or Pirates aside the sheer realization that I have a LONG way to paddle to get back to shore seems like an impossible task. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way going to give up or quit. But it is sobering situation to finally know just enough about competition shooting to know the exact challenge ahead of me is monumental.

So what is the “Challenge” anyway? If having fun while shooting is the challenge, then that is already met. I have a great time every time I shoot, even though I still get “Buzzer Amnesia” some times. Some times I wonder if breathing wasn’t a subconscious function if I would actually pass out from not breathing once the buzzer goes off. Breathing seems like such a simple thing to do but when the Buzzer Amnesia hits you never know what kind of basic functions will get screwed up. I have found that I perform the worst when I try to formulate a stage strategy that is very ordered and logical. When I try to break down a stage in my head like “Go here, shoot this and this target but not that one, then reload here and engage this target followed by these other two……” it turns into a complete disaster as soon as I run into any hiccup in my predetermined plan. Knowing that my brain can not deal with a screwed up plan well under the pressure of being on the clock during a stage run, I have changed my stage strategy planning to be more vague. Now, I look at a stage and get a basic flow of how I should engage the targets which will get me to the end the fastest. The only thing that I really focus on is where I should perform my reloads. That way when the buzzer goes off my only thought process is “Find the next target and shoot it”. Not do this one and that one then…… CRAP, I screwed up the order, what do I do now??? WHAT ARE YOU DOING THINKING ABOUT THINGS??? SHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT, GOTTA CATCH UP…. The stage ends up being a train wreck of a performance and you look like a donkey doing it. I am sure that everyone has experienced that before. So now, I focus on being smooth and relaxed. I start with a very simple stage strategy and just let my instincts dictate my target engagement. Most of the time this strategy works well for me, but I still get thrown for a loop when there is a lot of sawing left to right on a stage with a lot of hidden or blocked targets. I tend to get lost on knowing which targets I have already engaged or not.

Right now, I seem to be shooting with a performance that is comparable to the “B” class shooters I compete with. I have not shot enough classifiers with my Limited gun to know what my official ranking is just yet, but regardless of what the numbers are, I can see how my performance stacks up against others. I decided to set a “Challenge” for myself to become a solid “A” class shooter by next December. That seems like it would be an obtainable goal for me and I really look forward to the challenge of getting there. I know that the more I shoot and the more experiences I am exposed to the better I will get by simply turning most of the consciously issued actions into subconscious reactions in given situations.

I know that some people will probably read this and be like “Here we go again with a new shooter with delusions of becoming a world class shooter overnight”. I hope that I have not set that expectation so far, as I do know that to become the best at anything does not happen easily or overnight. I will strive to become the best that I can be. Whatever class that puts me in really does not matter as long as I am true to myself about giving it my best. I also expect that doing the best that I can do will take a long time to achieve. This to me is actually cool, because it gives me a life long hobby to have fun with and work hard to improve upon. That is until the Zombie apocalypse happens. Then I don’t think the zombies or I will care what “Class” shooter I am as long as I can get the job done and don’t run out of ammo

On that note, I will try to keep this thread updated with my shooting experiences. Hopefully more experienced shooters can chime in when needed to help. I also hope that I can give back to the shooting community with what I learn along this journey of competition shooting.

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This past weekend I attended two matches. A Steel match on Saturday and a USPSA match on Sunday. The Saturday Steel match was the second time I had ever attended a steel match so it is still a very humbling experience. Needless to say accuracy and smooth shooting cadence is key to doing well. I started by stopping my gun on each target then pulling the trigger and that was working but was taking a lot more time. I was lucky to have GM Paul Clark Jr ROing me on one of the strings and he gave me the suggestion to not stop the sweep of the pistol on each target and just time the pulling of the trigger when it gets in front of the target. This worked out really well for me and not surprisingly I was able to shoot a lot more consistently and faster when doing it. We had a shoot off after the timed stages and as luck would have it I ended up shooting first against Paul Clark Jr. Needless to say he laid waste to me when going head to head, but I was able to shoot my best of the day against him using the technique he showed me earlier. Paul is a great guy and an awesome shooter. I really appreciate the help he offered during this match. It was a shooting lesson that I can apply to many different conditions, not just steel.

On Sunday I shot a local USPSA match but wasn't really into it for whatever reason. I was there physically, but not mentally. I just couldn't get into it. I would shoot the stages in a fog and let my subconscious mechanics take over, which ended up in a lack luster performance. I also went against the grain on a couple of stages where I shot it in a totally different manner than everyone else. I am pretty tall (6'4") so I have a little bit of a different vantage point on the targets. One stage in particular was a medium length course with a lot of targets on both sides of two barricades. Everyone else was engaging targets on both sides of the barricades as they were advancing down the course. To add to the fun there were at least 1 or 2 no shoots blocking most of the targets. From my vantage point I seen that I could just stand at the starting position and shoot all of the targets from there. Granted I would have to shoot between no shoots and make some precise shots but it could be done. I figured that I would give it a try my way and as luck would have it the buzzer goes off, I draw and fire my first shot then go to break the second shot and notice that my gun is jammed. The second round in the magazine had nose dived and was jammed up on the leading edge of the feed ramp. So I had to drop the mag, clear the jam then get a new mag in there and get it ready to rumble again. This whole situation took a grueling 9 seconds to recover from but once I got it going again I stuck to the plan and shot all of the targets from the starting position. I had to take a little longer on some of the targets because of their close head shots between no shoots, but if I would have not had the malfunction my hit factor would have put me 9th out of the 20 Limited shooters on that stage. To me that wasn't to bad considering there was one GM and five M level shooters shooting in Limited class that day. Even though I shot the stage differently from everyone else, after watching most of the other people shoot it the "normal" way I could see how they would have a time and accuracy advantage of running through the stage instead of doing it the way I did. Oh well, these are the lessons of stage strategy. Even though I wasn't really into it from a competitive standpoint I still had fun and for me that matters the most.

Well, this week I am heading down to Phoenix Arizona for the Desert Classic Area 2 match. This will be my first "Big" match so I am interested in seeing how it all goes down. I really don't have any performance expectations other than to shoot all of the targets and be safe. I think this trip will be more of a learning experience than anything else. At my current experience level it is unrealistic to expect to do well at an event of this size as I am sure the vast majority of the attendees are coming to win, not just experience the event. I will keep this thread updated with my experiences of the match. I am sure it will be a great event to attend and partake in.

Edited by CHA-LEE

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Day one is over at the Desert Classic Area 2 match in Mesa Arizona. There are a ton of shooters here and the stages are awesome. We shot five of the 11 stages today and are scheduled to shoot five more tomorrow. My first five stages were “OK”, nothing to write home about. I had two misses today which was a bummer but no other penalties which is good. I am not trying to push it at this match, just trying to enjoy it. There are some good shooters on my squad and they are all really nice. On the last stage of the day the only GM in our squad had an accidental discharge during mag changes so I think he is done for the weekend. He was discussing the situation with the Match Director when I left and it wasn’t decided whether he was going to be DQed or not, but I am sure they will DQ him given the situation. It sucks to see such a good shooter get DQed, but safety comes first and wake up calls like that are needed when you are pushing the envelope too far. I am looking forward to the shooting tomorrow, I am sure it will be just as fun as today.

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Belated updates to the Desert Classic……

Day two was rugged for me. I had three stages with ultra fast swingers and they killed me. To many misses on these swingers totally blew out my overall score. I was trying to get two hits on each in one swing pass and was missing them badly. One of the Master shooters on my squad said to just take the extra time and get one hit on the swinger per pass and that worked great for the last stage. Too bad I didn’t get that advice earlier on, oh well some lessons are harder than others. We finished up the day doing a Chronograph and my major loads ended up with a 166.2 PF. That was a surprise to me as when I tested them back home the same loads were in the 168 – 169 range. The humidity level is pretty much the same between Colorado and Arizona so I don’t think that was much of a factor in the difference. I do know that the temperature in AZ was about 20 deg hotter than when I tested them in Colorado. That and the altitude is lower in AZ, so those two things combined are probably what lowered the PF of the loads. Either way, I was glad to make Major PF.

Day three consisted of just one stage and that went pretty good for me. Shooting on the move is one of my weak spots and this stage leveraged it heavily. So my time was a little slower than most on this stage but I got all of my hits which was good. When all of the shooting was over the awards ceremony happened and I was in awe over how many awesome goodies were on the prize tables. I counted up 25 guns on the Limited prize table alone and that was the second biggest table there. Needless to say that was just the tip of the ice burg of all the prizes. My 73rd overall in Limited netted me about $150 worth of “Loot” from the prize table which to me is pretty impressive given how far down I was in the results.

I had my fellow squad members video my stags and after reviewing them I can instantly tell what I have to work on. I need to get moving from place to place a lot faster than I currently am doing it. The videos showed me just moseying from one place to another. I can also see where I am taking too long to transition from one target to another. If I can speed these two things up my results will be a lot better. To me, moving faster from target to target or from position to position is like a free bonus because I can move faster, I just wasn’t. Seeing myself shoot on video was a great wake up call to what I am actually doing right and wrong. If you have not had someone film you shooting, I would highly suggest getting it done at the next match. As they say, a picture says a thousand words.

Overall I was very impressed with the Desert Classic Area 2 match and will be going back again next year. The stages were awesome and the whole show was run very well. If you are in the area and have not attended this match I would highly recommend it.

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I have been reviewing the videos of my stages at the Area 2 and am eager to give a couple of things a try this coming weekend. Moving faster and wasting less movement is going to be my main focus. I just hope that the weather holds out so we can shoot this weekend.

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I got to shoot this past Sunday and the weather was great. We are really getting lucky with the weather here in colorado, at least on the weekends. Last week I did a lot of dry firing and draw training. I was able to wittle down my 1.5+ sec draw down to .8 sec from hands at sides and 1.0 from surrender position. I tried out my new drawing skills on Sunday and was able to do a .9 sec draw from hands at sides and a 1.0 sec from surrender in competition so I was really happy with that. Picking up at least half a second just on the draw is great for me.

I did have some trouble with nose dive issues on my EAA though. The reloads I have been doing so far still leave a little belly at the base of the bullet and that really causes problems on the EAA mags. Then if you combine that with putting the rounds in a slightly dirty container is a perfect recipe for failure. Of course that caught up with me on one speed shoot stage and then the classifer stage right after that. I got a tip from another shooter about using a standard resize die on position 1, then a Lee undersize die on position 2 as the Lee die resizes further down the case than the standard Dillon die. I made that change to my Dillon 650 reloader today and the belly issue is now gone for the most part. The dies can't go all the way to the bottom of the case so there is still a little bit of a radius on some rounds, but it is 100% better than what it was before. I am going to give these new rounds a test run this week at the local indoor range. That and I am now going to keep all of my loose ammo in an ultra clean container so there is no chance of dust contamination.

Overall I was happy with my results this past weekend. There was really only one long run and gun stage where I felt a little lost on but I was only 4 seconds off the stage winner. Target transition was my enemy on that stage. There was a section that had four low 6" steel plates intermixed with paper targets that were blocked by no shoots so you had to sift from one side to another to get access to all of the paper targets. I felt fine with the paper targets but going from the paper to the steel back to the paper really messed my timing up. Oh well, it was a good experience and if I could have reshot the sage after the match it would have been cool to try a couple different strategies. Maybe next time....

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Another weekend of fun USPSA shooting. I attended a match this past Saturday and it was fun. I had a couple of bone head moments but overall I was happy with my results. I had two blunders though. The first was on a stage where you had to shoot on the move with mixed close and long targets, then reload and shoot through some "Jail Bars". I was so concerned with my shooting on the move that I forgot to do my reload until I was standing in front of the jail bars getting ready to engage the targets. So I lost some time standing there performing a reload when I should have done it while moving to the shooting position. The major blunder of the match was on another stage that was a run and gun where you are close up on the targets. There were four groups of four targets and you could get as close as you wanted as you ran by them. I was doing good through the first two sets of targets, then the reload and when I brought by support hand back up for the grip I bumped the safety back on and then proceeded to waste about 10 seconds wondering why the hammer wouldn’t fall when I would pull the trigger. That is the first time that happened to me but I can see how it could have happened given that I was pushing myself and the reload was a little clunky. I was trying to recover from the sloppy reload by bringing my support hand up fast to reform my grip and it bumped the safety back on. Oh well, that’s just another lesson that smoothness is the key to success. When you try to force things all kinds of crazy stuff can happen.

My shooting buddy and I have been filming each other shooting the stages so reviewing the footage after the matches really helps with understanding what you are or are not doing well. I am getting better at moving as fast as I can between shooting positions as well as shooting on the move. But I can see where I need to work on keeping my gun up and engaging the targets as soon as I enter a shooting area. This past Saturday I couldn’t stop thinking that shooting well is really nothing more than optimizing every aspect of shooting on its own, then pulling it all together in a smooth shooting package after the buzzer goes off. I am still in the "Optimizing" of the different steps so I am not too concerned to well the package comes together after the buzzer goes off. I am sure that once I get the basic functions optimized it will be easier to compile the performance into a smooth and efficient performance.

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I was able to attend another USPSA match this past Sunday. Here in Colorado it’s starting to get cold. The “High” temp for Sunday was 38 deg and most of the morning while shooting it was colder than that. Needless to say a common comment from my fellow shooters was “BBBBRRRRRRRR…. ITS COLD!!!!”. The only saving grace was that there was very little wind so that made it at least bearable. Cold weather shooting was interesting. Not being able to fully feel the firearm due to cold hands was a new experience for me. That and noticing that my trigger finger felt like it was in slow motion. We were all in the same boat though and it was interesting to see the other competitors deal with the cold. I had a decent match, not error free but good for me given the conditions. I still have the first stage donkey performance as usual that feels super clunky and filled with errors. I don’t know how to overcome this. My first stage of the day is always my worst. I either try to go too fast and have a bunch of mistakes or I go too slow and mosey through the stage ending up with a hurting hit factor. After the first stage I am fine and shoot the rest of the stages without the same problems. I think I need to come up with a pre-stage warm up plan that gets me into the “Zone” for the first stage.

I was able to do a bunch of Clip Board RO work this weekend as well and that was a fun learning experience. It was nice to help out even more and get a chance to see a different perspective to working with the squad. I think I am going to take an RO course so I can help with running the clock as well.

My major lesson learned for this match was with my magazines. Since I was running the Clip Board I had to stay close to the shooters during the stage. This required a lot of running around and I had my loaded mags on my belt. Well the first round on the mags got biased forward to the point where on one stage when I tried to do a reload the first round was biased so far forward that the mag wouldn’t even go into the mag well of my pistol. Needless to say, this wasn’t fun to encounter during my turn though the stages. Its no big deal though as it gives me another thing to double check before I start a stage. It was a good lesson to learn and I am glad that I learned it. One lesson at a time, I just have to keep chipping away at them.

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I shot a Steel match today. It was a cold one today. At the start of shooting it was a brisk 21 degrees, but there was no breeze and the sun was out so it wasn’t too bad. My new challenge is to get a consistent shooting cadence and this was my focus for this match. While everyone else was trying their best to win the match, I wasn’t worried about my times. I focused on shooting the steel in a smooth and consistent cadence and it worked great. We did three rounds of the stages. The first round I shot it as a normal steel match would, free style grip and one shot on each target. The second round I shot the stages strong hand only and focused on a consistent cadence, still only engaging each target with one shot only. I was able to shoot the targets will and keep a decent pace. The third round I shot the targets free style with two shots each while still keeping a consistent shot cadence. I was surprised at how accurate I was able to shoot while greatly speeding up my target to target transitions. Shooting in a consistent cadence does pay dividends, much more than I thought it would. I guess those suggestions by the top shooters to develop a consistent shooting cadence is as important as they say it is. I still need a lot of practice to get this new shooting style down, but it will be well worth the hard work to get it right.

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I attended a local USPSA match this past Sunday. My main focus was on keeping a steady shooting cadence and to keep moving while shooting. To be totally honest the cadence shooting made me feel like I was going really slow but my stage times were good. The cadence shooting paid off big time in accuracy. I didn’t have any misses or no-shoots and only 3 – 4 “D” hits the entire day. That to me was the biggest surprise. I guess seeing a sight picture on both shots per target makes the rounds go where they should. Before, I would try to squeeze off two shots as fast as I could on the target. While doing this I would really only getting a sight picture for the first shot and hope that the second shot would be in the right place as well. I can manage the recoil and muzzle flip pretty good so this would work out a lot of times, but I would still end up with some “D” and Mikes here or there. I now have to work on speeding up my shooting cadence to balance it with my target to target transition speed. It’s cool to see a new method of shooting work out so well on my first outing with it. It can only get better as I practice more.

I was happy with my match results. This was the biggest local match that I have been to so far with 80 shooters in attendance, with 20 in limited class. I finished 7th overall in Limited which is really good for me given that there were two Grand Masters and six Masters in attendance. Ron Avery was shooting Limited on my squad and it was great to see him break down the stages before hand and then run through them like a well oiled machine when it was his turn to shoot. Zero wasted movement, awesome target to target transitions, very fast pace and very accurate = devastating stage times and hit factors. Its great to see how the stages should be shot, verses the clunky mistake ridden performance I can currently muster. At least for now :)

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I attended a local indoor bowling pin match on Tuesday with my shooting buddy and it was fun but really not my cup of tea. They have rim fire and center fire classes and you can shoot both. The only rim fire pistol I have is my ladies Walther P22 which my hands engulf when I try to get a normal grip on it. Shooting that little thing after shooting my EAA Witness Limited exclusively for a while was entertaining to say the least. You start with the pistol in your grip but pointed down in a low ready position. This was hard for me to get use to since I really have never started on the clock like that. It was a fun little match to take part in but probably not something I will do again. I could think of more useful things to train on than this match.

After the match my shooting buddy and I chronographed some rounds that we have been working on. I am loading the rounds for both of us and we are trying to find a common ground load setup that will work in both of our guns and still feed reliably as well as make Major PF. We are both shooting the same type of gun but there is always a little difference from one gun to the next which makes using a common round setup between them a little bit of a challenge. The EAA pistols are super finicky about the straightness of the brass case. If there is any amount of belly or ramp at the base of the case it causes the rounds to randomly nose dive and jam up on the base of the barrel feed ramp. Knowing that a nose dive could happen we are using a really long OAL (1.225). This really long round helps with keeping the head of the bullet on the barrel feed ramp when it tries to nose dive. With a shorter OAL the round will dip below the start of the barrel feed ramp when it nose dives and get stuck. Using an unusually long OAL requires a little bit of testing to get the right amount of powder to make major. Right now we are using Clays powder with a 4.6gr load using a 180gr Zero FMJ bullet. This gets us an average of 925 fps between both of our guns. This is fine for making major (166.5 PF) here in Colorado but we will probably have to bump up the powder to 4.7 - 4.8gr if we go to an out of state match that is at a lower altitude with more humidity. I don't think there is ever an end to fiddling around with the load setups of the rounds.

We then did some reaction time to buzzer live fire testing. We also worked on our shooting cadence while transitioning between targets. We basically shot multiple targets as fast as we felt comfortable while keeping our splits the same between all of the shots. Then we started pushing the envelope on the shot cadence speed until we could see a difference between our double shots on target and the transitions between targets. I was surprised at how fast I could actually shoot and keep the splits and transitions the same. The fastest I could go while still maintain an acceptable sight picture on every shot was .20 - .25 second splits/transitions. If I slowed down a little I could get a great sight picture for each shot with .30 - .35 second splits/transitions. I am still blown away by now being able to get a sight picture on every shot. I know that is probably a super novice thing to achieve but I am happy to figuring it now verses years from now. I can't wait to put this into practice at the next match. Hopefully the next match does not get snowed out. The weather forecast isn't looking so good for the next match so far, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.

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Match is cancelled tomorrow. I knew that the Colorado Winter Weather would catch up with us one of these weekends. We have really had some great luck with the weather on the weekends up until now, so I can't complain too much. I think I will do some cadance shooting training at an indoor range tomorrow since there won't be a match. The way I see it, no matter what or where I shoot, a chance to shoot is better than not shooting. I am happy with whatever shooting I can get during the winter months.

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I couldn’t stand being cooped up in the house today. Even though the "High" temp today was like 10 degrees, I called up my shooting buddy and asked if he wanted to go do some shooting at a private indoor range. There was no surprise when he said sure and that he was tired of being stuck in the house as well. So off we headed to the range and much to our surprise, ok maybe not so surprising given the extremely cold weather, the place was empty and we had it all to ourselves. This indoor range does not allow drawing from a holster, but does allow you to do just about anything else as long as the rounds are not hitting anything but the back stop. Keeping this in mind we setup some targets staggered near and far then setup some make shift shooting boxes that the targets had to be engaged from to keep the rounds going where they needed to go. We were able to get some really good USPSA style stage practice using this setup. We rearranged the starting position, gun ready condition, and target engagement strategy to keep it interesting. After about two hours and 250 rounds each some other shooters showed up so we had to break down our "Stage" to make some room for them. By then we were about done anyway so we called it a day and packed up our stuff and left the range to the other shooters. My main focus today was to keep a consistent shooting cadence across all targets from the same shooting position. I am feeling very comfortable now with maintaining a .20 - .25 second split shooting cadence and my stage times were way better and more accurate when I kept that cadence. Just for a test I shot the stages both double tap style (only seeing one sight picture for both shots) and cadence style (Seeing a sight picture on every shot) and the cadence style always yielded the best time and the most accuracy. Once I start shooting it goes pretty good, but I can tell that I am losing at least half a second on engaging the first target when entering a shooting position. I keep trying to enter the shooting area with my gun up and on target but I get too focused on my foot work and end up trying to get my gun on target after I am in the shooting position. Leaving the shooting position I am pretty good at continuing to engaging the targets as I am getting out. But getting into the shooting position is still a big challenge for me. If I try to push the speed on the first target when I get into a shooting position my accuracy is crap and I end up with misses or outer edge "D" hits. How I am currently entering the shooting area and engaging the first target does not feel like it flows. It feels clunky and forced. This week I am going to practice entering a shooting area and engaging targets from many different foot positions and gun ready conditions. I think I will try to find a way to do it that feels smooth and flowing first then worry about speed later. The way I see it, even if I do it in a way that is fast but it feels clunky or rushed it isn't going to yield good consistent results in match conditions. I am going to be attending a training class presented by a Grand Master and a Master shooter next weekend, weather permitting, and it will be interesting to hear their perspective on the best way to enter a shooting position and engage the targets. We will see....

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Well the Colorado winter weather strikes again. The shooting class that was scheduled for this Saturday has been canceled due to the weather. A high of 21 degrees and chance of show is not a good forecast for being outside all day. The regular USPSA matches will probably be canceled as well as this cold front isn’t going anywhere until some time next week. If the USPSA matches get canceled my shooting buddy and I are planning on doing some more practice at the indoor range. The way I see it any shooting is better than no shooting. I hope that the matches don't get canceled though because I am really looking forward to seeing how my cadence shooting works out in competition.

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The bad news this weekend was that both of the matches on Saturday and Sunday got canceled due to the weather. The Good news is that we were able to scare up enough people to go out to the range on Saturday and setup a stage to run through it a bunch of times for practice. It was cold for sure, but well worth it for the extra practice. The stage we setup was cool because you could shoot it a couple of different ways. You could do the standard run and gun by running around the shooting area engaging the targets close and fast. Or you could engage half the targets from one shooting position then move to another for the rest of the targets but the shots were quite a ways away. I ran though the stage a couple of times each way and much to my surprise the run and gun method was a couple seconds slower than just standing in a couple of places and taking your time on the far away shots. I still don’t have a really good strategic gauge of which way would be best/fastest for a given stage. But practice sessions like this one are helping me get better at it. After we all shot the stage as much as we wanted we tore it down and cleaned everything up. Given that the high temp was like 21deg while we were there everyone was eager to wrap it up sooner than later. My shooting buddy and I were able to take the used targets with us as we planned on doing some more practice later that day at an indoor range.

This outdoor practice also gave me a chance to give my new Reebok Vince Young NFL Cleats a test run. I have been looking for a good pair of cleats for the USPSA matches as most of the stages are setup on loose gravel and most of the top shooters are using some kind of cleat or another. Most of the cleats that I found had the traction lugs located just inside the edge of the sides of the sole. When I test fit these shoes it felt like there wasn’t enough side to side support because the traction lugs were not all the way out to the edge of the sole, so it was easy for my ankle to roll over when transitioning from side to side quickly. After a LOT of looking I finally found the Reebok Vince Young NFL Cleats and their traction lugs go all the way to the outside of the sole. I have wider feet as well and these shoes fit nicely. They worked great at the range. They had awesome traction in the loose dirt and I was able to move around as fast as I wanted without feeling like I would lose traction or roll my ankle. They are WAY better than the $100 New Balance hiking shoes I had been using before. I am not a fan of the white styling on the Vince Young Cleats, as I think they would look a lot better if they were all black. But I will take function over fashion any day, especially at a shooting match. I have listed a link to these cleats below, maybe someone else is looking for the same thing I was and these might just be the ticket.

http://www.nflshop.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2915542

On Saturday evening my shooting buddy and I headed to the indoor range and setup cool stage with eight targets and four shooting boxes. Since this indoor range has strict rules about keeping the shots to only hitting the back stop we setup shooting boxes to engage the targets in a fashion that kept the lead going where it should. This was really good practice for moving through shooting boxes while engaging targets. When I first ran though the stage I ended up with a 16.5 sec run. During that run I was pretty much coming to a stop in every shooting box before I started shooting. I was also breaking down my grip while moving between shooting boxes and that was costing me time because I would have to rebuild my grip once I got into the shooting box. After testing a couple of methods of moving through the shooting boxes and keeping my grip together while I was running in between boxes I was able to get my stage time down to a consistent 11.75 seconds. To be honest I was surprised that I was able to shave that much time off the stage by simply keeping in motion while in the shooting boxes and not breaking my grip as I moved from one shooting location to another. I found that if I kept my grip together but just pulled the pistol back to my chest, I could engage the targets very quickly by punching the gun out when it was time to shoot. This was a very cool experience for me and it didn’t hinder my running speed at all. I am also getting better and better with the cadence shooting while on target and transitioning between targets. My splits are staying between .20 - .30 most of the time and its starting to feel more “normal” to keep my shot cadence going when transitioning from one target to another. I know it is going to take a while to get the “Double Tap” out of my system, but it is progressing nicely and the more I shoot the more confident I feel in my ability to execute on the basics without needing to focus on them. Much more practice is needed, but I can already see an improvement in my performance which is a great moral booster.

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I got to shoot a USPSA match today, the last one of 2008 in fact. It was a cold one though. Most of the day it was between 20 - 25 deg and there was a slight wind so the bone chilling cold was in full effect. One of the shooters brought a portable propane heater for us to use and that was a life saver for all. There were not many competitors today but that was not a surprise given the cold weather. The sun was out and we were able to put some holes in paper so it was still a lot of fun. I think I am now stepping up my performance to the next level. I shot all of the stages at a speed that was far better than before and my shooting cadence was great. There were not many run and gun stages this match due to the bitter cold making it hard to setup extensive stages. Most of the stages were tests of reloading and shooting freestyle then switching to strong hand only. On the one run and gun stage I got a really nice movement flow and my shooting cadence as I went through the stage was great. That was really nice for me to put together such a strong run and having all of my skills come together all at once. I have been shooting a lot better now that I have a new found confidence in my shooting index, its crazy what happens when you just let go and allow yourself to break through what you previously thought was 100% of your capabilities. Allowing myself to see what you only need to see for a sight picture on a given target, verses forcing the same sight picture for every target, is like stepping into a whole new world of shooting. I have been slacking on my dry fire practice though and it was showing in a couple of fumbled reloads. I need to set a specific dry fire schedule a couple of days every week and just stick to it. The more I burn in the basics the less I will have problems with them in matches.

Here is a link to a YouTube video of the run & gun stage that went well for me. Not too bad considering the temp outside that day and barely being able to feel the gun and trigger.

Edited by CHA-LEE

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Here is a link to a YouTube video of the run & gun stage that went well for me. Not too bad considering the temp outside that day and barely being able to feel the gun and trigger.

Charlie..you are looking good..your times on the trigger look good compared to the two master shooters today..and you finished well in the overall..nicely done...keep up the improvement..

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eerw> Thanks for the encouragement buddy, it means a lot coming from a GM such as yourself. Shooting for me is always a work in process, I just have to keep at it.

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I was able to get in about 350 rounds of practice today at a private outdoor range. A friend of mine has some land not too far out of town and he invited me and a couple of others to some out and shoot today. We setup a couple of different courses and ran through them a bunch of times. It was a great practice session and we tried many variations of tackling the stage. Trying different target engagement orders, different starting positions and things like that. My cadence shooting is getting better and better the more I practice it as well. I have been working really hard on optimizing my body movement from one shooting place to another. I have taken up a strategy to keep on moving the whole time until I get to the end of the stage where I can engage the last few targets. This makes the stage flow so much better it’s unbelievable. Even though I move through the COF at a normal pace I am finding that it takes less effort to get to the end of the stage and also allows me to keep shooting most of the time nonstop. I can't wait to put this new flowing way of shooting to the test during tomorrows match. The match tomorrow is a "Home Grown" match at an indoor range and is kind of a mixture of IDPA and USPSA style shooting. It’s more based on a mental game of engaging targets in a specific order and accuracy than speed shooting. So this is a good match for me to turn the speed down a notch and put the thinking cap back on. It’s really fun to shoot fast though so it will be hard to restrain myself.

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The match tonight was "So-So". Their stages were very process and target engagement oriented with little regard to the proper flow of how it should be shot. If this was a USPSA match and we could have shot the stages any way we wanted, it could have been shot in half the time we were doing. As it was though you were forced to engage the targets from a stand still most of the time. It was fun to shoot, but it really does not help better my USPSA shooting skills. I think the next time I shoot that match I will shoot it all strong hand or weak hand to at least get some better practice at that type of shooting. Otherwise its really a waste of time and ammo given the shooting goals I am trying to achieve. Oh well, some lessons you learn sooner or later.

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We were able to get some more practice in today at the private outdoor range. More moving in and out of shooting boxes and shooting on the move. We ran through about 4 different stage setups and it was great. I am smoothing out my movements and engaging the targets a lot sooner as I get into the shooting positions. I have been focusing on keeping the gun up in front of my face as I run and enter shooting positions and that is greatly improving my on target engagement time. More practice is needed though as it is still a little odd keeping the gun up all the time while moving around. The benefits are evident though so I will need to burn it in and make it a standard practice.

The match set for tomorrow has been canceled due to poor weather, which sucks. The winter season is upon us so matches being canceled are to be expected. I am eager give these new tactics a try in an official match so it is a little frustrating to have the matches canceled.

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I was able to participate in an indoor USPSA match last night. It was at a really nice indoor range in Colorado Springs that I had never been to before. We shot three stages. One Run and Gun, one Classifier, and one Low Light. The run and gun stage was pretty basic. Three shooting boxes with three targets to engage in each box. I ran through the stage well and engaged the targets as I was entering and exiting the box, but on the last shooting box and last target I got a jam and had to clear it before finishing up. I would have had a really good run if not for the jam, but oh well, that’s how it goes. The second stage was the CM99-22 Nuevo El Presidente classifier and I shot it “ok”. I botched the draw a little bit and took too long to get the first shot off but somehow I still managed to get a 68% on it. The last stage was a low light situation where we had to engage three targets at about 10 yards with two shots to the body and one shot to the head. My time was good and I got all hits on target, but every head shot was low just below the head. I think I was subconsciously worried about shooting over the head and pulled the shots low. Not being able to get a sight picture on the heads due to the low light was tuff to deal with to say the least. This was only the second time that I did a low light shooting stage so I still felt like a fish out of water. Overall it was a lot of fun and good experience for shooting in low light conditions.

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What a busy weekend. On Saturday I attended a training class with a local Master shooter (Jerry Westcott). The training was great and he was able to find some flaws in some of my shooting basics. After applying his recommendations my shooting is a lot more consistent. It is nice to get an outsiders opinion and direct input on what you are doing right or wrong. We chewed through about 400 rounds of ammo running through drills and stages. It was well worth the time and money for the class.

On Sunday I went to a USPSA match in Pueblo with a couple other shooting buddies of mine. The match was great and we got to shoot six stages instead of the normal five. The club is moving to using Palm Pilots for the stage scoring and it went pretty good given that it was a “new” thing for everyone. Some things could have been done better with the new scoring process but it’s a learning curve for all and I am sure the club will get it all ironed out soon enough. I shot the match pretty good. My movements, shooting cadence, and stage break down processes were coming together nicely. I only had a couple of bone head moments but nothing near the problems I have had before. When going throught a couple of the stages I shot some extra targets that were not part of the stage (some steel in the back of the berm) just for the fun of it. They were these large steel plates in the back corners of the berms that looked like gongs. I figured it would be funny to hear the "Gongs" go off while I shot the stage but I only sent one shot at each one before moving on and missed on them. It sucked that I missed the gongs but it was fun trying to go after them during the stage. I only lost about a second or two on the stage when I tried to hit them so it didn't hurt my overall results too much. If you can’t have fun then why do it right? Much to my satisfaction my stage times were only one or two seconds off of the top Master shooters on almost all of the stages, even when going after the gongs. My hit factors were a little lower due to lower points but it’s nice to be able to traverse the stages in almost the same time as the top shooters. I must be doing something right for that to happen. Overall it was a great weekend of shooting and I look forward to the next match so we can do it all over again.

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I made "B" Class in Limited today :cheers:

Now I have 11 more months to make it to "A" Class in limited B)

Gotta keep the nose to the grind stone to achieve that goal.......

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I made "B" Class in Limited today :cheers:

Now I have 11 more months to make it to "A" Class in limited B)

Gotta keep the nose to the grind stone to achieve that goal.......

sweet..congratulations...watching you at the match the other day..you are moving and shooting well..its all small refinements now..more points, less time getting there..

on all the stages except the one I had a malfunction on , it looks like you are only about 1 second +/- off my times.

you are doing well..keep at it..

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